Jean Rives Magee, born Maida Jean Rives, died peacefully at her home in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi on Saturday, July 30th at the impressive age of 97.
She lived a life filled with both joy and tragedy, navigating through all with strength, charm and an understated wit. Her longevity and good health can be attributed to her lifelong refusal to exercise or to partake of a healthy diet. She preferred her two (plus) old fashioneds at 6 pm every night, Mexican food and Butterfingers. Jean was born the eldest of two children in Mansfield, Louisiana in 1925 to Judson Carey Rives and Maida Smith Rives (both deceased). Her early years were spent in Shreveport before the family settled in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which she always considered her true home. She attended LSU and was a member of the Chi Omega sorority. Jean was a very bright student and, midway through her college studies, wanted to pursue medicine. However, she was told by an advisor to the surgical board that she would only be admitted into medical school if she vowed not to marry or have children, thus “wasting” a place that could be filled by a male. Incensed, she transferred to Virginia to pursue a degree in a then relatively unknown practice known as “physical therapy”. Jean graduated from the Richmond division of the College of William and Mary in the late 1940s, becoming one of the first in her field. She worked at Ochsner Hospital for nearly forty years, first as a therapist on site and later traveling to the Orleans Parish schools to work with physically and mentally impaired children. Jean met her husband Dr. Henry Cone Magee, Jr. (deceased) after graduation and moved to New Orleans when they married. She spent most of her life in the city raising her six children, Henry Cone Magee, III (Mac), Maida Jean Magee Riess (deceased), Judson Rives Magee, Charles Tomes Magee, Marshall Brian Magee (deceased) and Amy Magee Chalstrom. She enjoyed an active social life that included her membership in the Southern Yacht Club. In 2000 Jean moved to Bay St. Louis, MS where she established memberships at the Bay Waveland Yacht Club and the Pass Christian Yacht Club. Jean was an avid reader, bridge player, and crossword puzzler with an uncanny ability to find four leaf clovers. She loved a party - from nightly happy hours to Mardi Gras to her years in the Liquid Lunch group with New Orleans friends. She loved men. Jean had a passion for early American furniture and spent hours rummaging through antique stores looking for interesting bottles and pieces to add to her beloved “flow blue” collection. Jean claimed to not like pets, but there was never a time when she wasn’t feeding a stray cat and then complaining, publicly, that they wouldn’t go away. While raising her family, there were always dogs, cats or the occasional duck wandering about. She loved football. Every fall Sunday was spent watching NFL games - she always was sweet on at least one quarterback. True to her strong, practical nature, she advised not to get too emotionally vested because “the Saints will always break your heart.” She loved the cool air of the North Carolina mountains and the hot sands of the Florida beaches.
Jean is predeceased by her husband, brother Judson Carey Rives, daughter Maida and son Marshall.
She is survived by four of her children: Mac (Susan), Jud, Charlie (Mimi) and Amy (Harry Chalstrom); her grandchildren Josh Magee, Anne Magee Nichols, Sean Magee, Frank Riess, Carson Riess, Jeanie Riess, Harrison Magee, Rives Magee, Emily Magee, Meade Magee, Horace Chalstrom, Anna Chalstrom and Davis Chalstrom; and nine great grandchildren.
A visitation will be held for friends and family at Christ Episcopal Church in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi on Friday, August 19th at noon, followed by a 1:00 p.m. memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.